Yankees' Jay Bruce, 34, retires just weeks into 14th season

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New York Yankees outfielder Jay Bruce, third from left, waves from the dugout as injured first baseman Luke Voit, left, applauds, while outfielder Brett Gardner rests on the railing as the Yankees announced Bruce's retirement from baseball during the seventh inning of the Yankees loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in a baseball game, Sunday, April 18, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK – Jay Bruce had seen enough. Having made the New York Yankees' opening-day roster, he couldn't stomach his poor start to the season.

So the three-time All-Star outfielder decided to retire Sunday, just 15 days past his 34th birthday.

“Just the consistent underperformance for me,” he said before the game against Tampa Bay, his voice quavering at times. “Felt like I wasn’t able to do it at a level that was acceptable for myself.”

Bruce informed Yankees manager Aaron Boone of his decision during a 20-minute meeting in the manager’s office on Friday, then made a public announcement before Sunday’s game. He received an ovation when shown on the video board before the eighth inning but did not get in the game.

Bruce went to spring training with the Yankees on a minor league contract and made the major league roster as a first baseman when Luke Voit injured a knee, earning a $1.35 million one-year deal.

He hit .118 with one homer and three RBIs in 39 plate appearances this year. He started the first eight games at first base but just two of the next seven. DJ LeMahieu shifted to first from second until Voit returns in a few weeks, and newly acquired Rougned Odor was inserted at second.

Bruce had a .244 average with 319 homers and 951 RBIs in 14 major league seasons with Cincinnati (2008-16), the New York Mets (2016-18), Cleveland (2017), Seattle (2019), Philadelphia (2019-20) and the Yankees.

“I was so lucky to have set a standard for myself throughout my career that was frankly very good most of the time,” he said. “And I don’t feel that I’m able to do that, and I think that was the determining factor and in the decision. And I feel good about that decision and I feel thankful honestly to myself that I could be honest enough with myself to to understand that it’s time for this chapter to close.”